Friday, August 21, 2015

A Daily Bass Practice Routine

My jazz band class ended last night, but resumes again in two weeks for a new semester.
Everything about playing bass gets easier and easier for me.  Playing and practicing regularly is the key, of course.  You don't become a bass player by thinking about it, reading about it, or even writing about it.  You learn bass by doing:  playing, practicing and listening.

I never volunteer to solo with my band, but last night the band leader asked me to do a bass solo for the song "All of Me."  I said okay; I wasn't at all afraid to try it.  The bass solo went quite well and I was glad I did it.  From now on I will practice a bass solo with each new song I learn.

The band leader suggested a daily practice routine for all musicians in my band.  He practices this way, and recommends we all do the same:

1.  Spend 15 minutes of warming up.  This is "noodling." Trying things, experimenting.  Playing snippets of songs, arpeggios, and a blues routine or two.  Get those fingers warmed up.

2.  Spend 15 minutes playing a scale -- one scale per day, but with firsts and thirds and/or first and fifths, forward and backwards.  By playing a scale in firsts and thirds, you play not only the root for each note in the scale, but its third as well.  For example, C scale in firsts and thirds would be C-E, D-F#, E-G#, F-A, G-B, A-C#, B-D#. 

3.  Spend 15 minutes sight reading sheet music or exercises.  The more you practice reading notes, the easier it becomes.  I need to increase my sight reading ability for notes in the high part of the staff, the high E, E and F.  I also need to improve my fingering skill while playing these notes.  I also need practice in reading and playing notes that are sharped or flatted, particularly in eighth notes, to improve my speed and accuracy.

4.  Spend 15 minutes practicing a song.  Use recordings or apps to do this, and use sheet music if possible.  Steps 3 and 4 can be linked, for example, practice sight reading of the song you want to learn, then practice playing the song along to a recording of same.  Note:  I use an iPhone/iPad app called iReal Pro.  This app gives you the chords and plays the song for you to accompany.  You can change the key to any song so that the app's version matches your sheet music.

If you cannot practice daily due to work, school or other commitments, practice 4 or 5 times a week.  The more practice you get in, the faster you will achieve your goal.